HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Bread Basket Bakery, Where Sweet and Simple Still Rule

Tana Geerdes, co-owner of the Bread Basket Bakery in Cheyenne, takes a sandwich order during the lunch rush. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

By David Dudley

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CHEYENNE, Wyo.—The aroma of fresh-baked sticky buns wafted out the front door of  Bread Basket Bakery when I walked past the shop recently. I didn’t intend to buy anything, but I wandered in just the same.

Upon entering the shop, I discovered a checkered floor, Formica high-top tables with stools covered in red vinyl and seating for about 14. It reminded me of the days before DoorDash decals tried to convince customers that in-person visits to neighborhood bakeries are no longer necessary.

On one side of the shop, there were jellies and jams (everything from blueberry to peach, orange marmalade and apple butter), pickles and more. On the other side, near a cooler filled with cakes of various sizes and aluminum foil pans of strudel, there were cookies (old-fashioned molasses, chocolate chip, peanut butter priced at 59 cents to $1.29 each) and breads (jalapeno cheddar, various ryes, English muffin and more, priced at $3.99 to $5.59 a loaf).

I picked up a pack of molasses cookies ($6.50 per dozen) and pressed my thumb against one of them. If it was hard, I would have put them back on the shelf. But it was soft. So I held on and grabbed a pan of blueberry strudel.

“You found something good, huh?” asked cashier Kathy Bade, 68, as I placed my haul onto the counter. I nodded and paid. But in my mind’s eye, I was already home brewing a fresh pot of espresso.

Kathy Bades, who’s worked at Bread Basket since 2009, laughs when asked if her T-shirt’s assertion is true. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

The molasses cookies were soft and sweet. As I chewed them, the cookie crumbled and dissolved, releasing waves of flavor. First, there was the subtly sweet molasses. Cream cheese and sour cream set the stage for flourishes of cherries, blueberries, peaches, strawberries, apples and raspberries. Then came a splash of lemon to finish.

Sweets and sandwiches

The Bread Basket Bakery opened in 1999. Three years later, Tana Geerdes and her husband, Duane, bought the business. Geerdes, 62, who worked in retail management for 30 years, is the sales mastermind; Duane, 67, is the master baker, having worked at Cheyenne-area bakeries before buying the Bread Basket, where he currently works.

Geerdes expanded the menu, adding sandwiches (turkey, ham, and chicken salad, to name a few, at $4.99 per half and up to $8.49 for a whole) and cabbage burgers and sloppy Joes (each priced at $7.00 with chips and a drink).

In addition to customers seeking their sweets fix, the lunch offerings kept the place humming most days from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. But when I arrived for my second visit, the line stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk on Maxwell.

“You picked a good day to visit,” Geerdes said. She was working the sandwich station. “I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve never seen it like this.”

Pictured above is Nancy Collins. This sign, one of a few displayed throughout the shop, ensures that customers know the vibe. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

When asked how her retail skills transferred to the bakery, Geerdes smiled.

“Selling is selling,” she said. And sell she does. Those sticky buns ($2.25 each for plain, $2.50 with nuts), are the bakery’s bestsellers, flying out the door at a clip of 200 per week.

As I stood beside Geerdes, watching her make sandwich after sandwich, the phone rang. Bade answered, then pressed the mouth-piece to her shoulder.

“It’s DoorDash—again,” Bade said.

Geerdes rolled her eyes, but took the phone and after hearing a sales pitch, she interrupted the speaker on the other end.

“I already told you that I’m not interested,” she said, then hung up.

“I’m just not into computers and all that,” said Geerdes. “I try to keep that stuff to a minimum. I don’t care if it means losing a few bucks.”

If you want to get some of Geerdes’ goodies, you’ll have to visit the Bread Basket Bakery in person.

Bread Basket Bakery, 1819 Maxwell Ave., Cheyenne, Wyoming; (307) 432-2525.

Open Tuesday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Closed Sunday and Monday.

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